Coronavirus causes local retail shortages in masks, sanitizer and computers

By Guy Page

Central Vermont residents appear to be either unaware or uncaring of the U.S. surgeon general’s plea to stop buying masks to ward off the coronavirus.

At a large, national pharmacy in Berlin, all the masks and bottles of hand sanitizer are sold out. A pharmacist said Sunday afternoon the few boxes the store does receive are quickly sold. The chain has redirected most of the available masks “out west,” where the need is considered more immediate. The problem is not one of supply — the mask-producing companies are working around the clock, he said — but one of skyrocketing demand.

Shoppers are scouring the hardware aisles for painters’ masks, the pharmacist said.

Guy Page

Protective masks were sold out at the Berlin, Vermont, CVS drug store.

At the nearby CVS drug store on the Barre-Montpelier Road, a sign noted that masks are out of stock. So were the alcohol wipes. Gloves and other protective products were available, however.

Seen from the bigger picture, these efforts at self-protection are counter-productive, the U.S. Surgeon-General said. “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted Saturday morning.

After Clerk of the Vermont House Bill MaGill walked up to the press gallery in accoustically sensitive Representatives’ Hall Well Friday and told the assembled reporters that the loud clicking of their laptop keys made it difficult to hear lawmakers’ answers to the Act 250 roll call vote, the Vermont Daily Chronicle decided to shop for a new, quieter Acer Chromebook laptop at the Staples in Berlin on Sunday afternoon. Alas, the store had none of the new, top-of-the-line model in stock, nor could any be found for delivery. Store personnel laid the blame squarely on coronavirus-related supply problems. They gave the Chronicle a toll-free number for the Staples call center. It, too, confirmed there were none in stock, and added that there are no plans to restock it.

According to the Feb. 20 Financial Times, it will take weeks for Taiwan-based Acer to recover full production after up to a third of assembly workers didn’t show up for work on some days in February. The situation has improved but other variables – transport, logistics bottlenecks, packaging materials – also may slow delivery, an Acer official told the Financial Times.

In other Vermont-coronavirus news:

An employee at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the Lebanon, New Hampshire, hospital serving much of the White River Valley area, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a 3/2 report in the Valley News. The patient is on home isolation.

Burlington International Airport is stepping up its cleaning and disinfecting efforts, WCAX reported today.

The CDC said that “measures that are not commensurate with contemporary U.S. standards of care” may be needed if there is a prolonged shortage of N95 respirators (traditional paper face masks) in U.S. hospitals, according to a statement on the Vermont Department of Health website. The statement offers several recommended measures in a crisis scenario, including state and local governments forcing facilities to share.

More information on the coronavirus, see the CDC website.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports.

Image courtesy of Guy Page

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus causes local retail shortages in masks, sanitizer and computers

  1. This is not a typical flu event. It’s potential is that of the Spanish Influenza of 1918. May it not come to that. But, people, especially in VT don’t seem to think it is serious. No one appears to be preparing, especially in the state government. There is no active testing going on like in Asia and some European Nations. I have grandchildren in elementary school, a place where covid-19 could infect hundreds before authorities realized. That scenario would then explode to thousands as those children with the undetected virus go home and infect family, friends, and neighbors. If that happens where will they be quarantined? Nobody in VT communities are preparing for the worst. In this case that would be the wise choice. It will come to VT, and in fact is probably already here. We just haven’t discovered it, yet. The only way to dodge this bullet is to go all out on monitoring and and educating the public. Covid-19 doesn’t announce when it is here.
    Progressive politicos are always reminding us that we need to save the world for our children and grandchildren. If they screw this up, there could be a lot less children to inherit their world. If there was ever a time for VT to set a standard for the nation, it’s now.

    • If wearing mask are no protection for individuals, then why are health workers wearing them?

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